Sandwich: Phil Mickelson plans to relax and enjoy the British Open this week and, judging by his appalling 20-year record in the sport`s oldest major, it seems as good as an approach as anything he has tried before.
Mickelson is undoubtedly one of the best players of the modern era and but for the presence of Tiger Woods would have won considerably more than the near-50 tournaments on his already impressive stat sheet.
The American can still point to three Masters wins, a US PGA, five second or joint-second places in the US Open and more than USD 62 million in prize money, not to mention eight appearances for his country in the Ryder Cup.
Yet when it comes to the British Open, the graceful left-hander with a touch of genius in his wedge is somehow transformed into a Sunday morning hacker.
In 17 Opens Mickelson has finished in the top 10 only once, third at Troon in 2004, and has had only five finishes inside the top 25.
At St Andrews his roll of dishonour reads 40th, 11th, 60th and (last year) 48th. He failed to make the cut at his two Carnoustie Opens while his only previous appearance at Royal St George`s in 2003 produced a 13-over-par tie for 59th.
"I`m entering this year kind of like a fresh start," Mickelson told a news conference after a breezy morning practice round on Tuesday. "I`m not going to worry about past performances and I`m going to try to learn and enjoy the challenge of playing links golf and I`m having fun doing that.”
"I`m trying to pretend like it`s my first time here. I`m trying not to dwell and don`t want to look back on my past performances that haven`t been what I expect. I`m not trying to fix any past poor play.”
"I feel excited and kind of reinvigorated to come over here and try to learn this style of golf and play it effectively."